How many murals did Keith Stillwagon paint in Gulfport?
It’s an excellent question that, thus far, no one’s been able to answer for sure. Stillwagon died in October 2021, leaving behind a colorful legacy of murals. His widow, Michelle, figures there are at least 20 in Gulfport.
“When I drive around Gulfport, I see small ones, big ones,” Gulfport photographer Larry Busby told The Gabber. “Keith is everywhere.”
Public murals like the ones on the Historic Peninsula Inn and Gulfport Garage are easier to track, but several Stillwagon murals are on or in people’s private homes.
“Every time I turned around, he was working on another one,” Gulfport resident Marlene Shaw told The Gabber. “People have them on their homes, on their garages, on their chimneys, and sometimes in their patio areas. So there’s quite a variety.”
Shaw has one on the side of her home. The mural features a full moon, a white bird, a butterfly in memory of Shaw’s son, and the usual Florida flora and fauna.
“This is actually the second one he’s done for me on my house,” Shaw told The Gabber. “And I’m already stressing because it’s been a long time since I’ve painted and the full moon is fading.”
There are so many Stillwagon murals that Busby needs Gulfport’s help finding them all.
Busby aims to photograph as many Stillwagon murals as he can find in Gulfport. Then he plans to donate the photographs to the Gulfport Historical Society in Stillwagon’s memory.
But first he needs to know where to find all those murals on and in private homes.
That’s why he approached Shaw at Sumitra Espresso Lounge during a Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market.
As cofounder of City of Imagination, Shaw curated several Stillwagon shows, and she’s always been a fan of Keith’s work. But she doesn’t know where all these private murals are either. So on Aug. 28 she posted on Facebook, asking Gulfport residents to DM her if they have a Stillwagon mural in their home that they wouldn’t mind having photographed. Thus far she’s only gotten a few responses.
Unlike paintings kept behind frames in museums, murals are open to the elements. In other words, they don’t last forever.
“Unfortunately, all these murals are going to fade,” Busby told The Gabber, “and Keith’s not around to touch them up.”
So help them out: Who out there has a Stillwagon mural? If you have a Stillwagon mural, please email Shaw at email@example.com.
“I want to preserve Keith in the history of Gulfport,” Busby told The Gabber. “ I think he was an important person. He was a major influence in the art world here – everyone knew him, everyone loved him. He was just a great person…”